ources available through the public health system and national organizations
such as chemical manufacturers.
A private physician should be cautious about making pronouncements on
environmental hazards, either to patients or to the news media. An association
between exposure and disease may seem obvious to a physician who has seen
several cases, and yet be scientifically incorrect. A physician who publicly
accuses a business of wrongdoing, rather than making a report to the health
department, may be open to a suit for damages by the business. Public health
officials are protected from such suits when they are acting as officers of the
state. Their job is made more difficult by the publicity that often arises when
individual physicians seek to publicize public health risks. It is better to discuss
the problem with the health department personnel before attempting to
publicize a risk that may not be significant. If, however, the health department
is unresponsive, the physician might want to contact a state or national
environmental protection group.